$100 million pledge to fix our failing river
THE health of the Richmond River has long been a major talking point for politicians but NSW Labor hopes its new plan will revive the river system to its former glory.
Deputy NSW Labor Leader and Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe announced yesterday the $100 million Richmond River Recovery Plan will aim to improve water quality and ecological sustainability across the catchment.
In 2014 the Richmond River was graded an overall D- in a comprehensive expert report and is considered one of the unhealthiest rivers in NSW.
The plan will see an independent coordinator appointed by Labor who will engage with local stakeholders, including all levels of government, the community, and local farming and industry, as part of the 10 year roll-out of the plan.
Labor's has also promised to allocate $27 million in funding as part of the $100 million commitment in their first term of government.
Ms Sharpe said she believed there was a chance the river could be restored to help industries that rely on the waterways.
"We're trying to reverse 200 years of neglect and destruction and really bring this river back to life," Ms Sharpe said.
"This river can no longer sustain oysters and proper prawn farming, we know that the irrigators and the farmers who live along the river are struggling with the drains, we know the riverbanks are in poor health and we know that work needs to be done immediately.
"We want to work with farmers, everyone has a responsibility for the health of the river."
Labor's plan for the Richmond River comes months after the Greens announced a similar policy which promised a $200 million plan over 10-15 years to create a Richmond River catchment "health commissioner" who would be responsible for overseeing and carrying out the strategy.
Country Labor Candidate for Ballina, Asren Pugh, said he believed farmers and fishers would welcome Labor's plan.
"This comprehensive plan will bring together all stakeholders to work together to save our river," Mr Pugh said.
"We will work with farmers to overcome bureaucratic obstacles to manage better."